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David Watson and Stuart Lister are two of the most experienced people involved with Targa Tasmania, having worked on the event in key organisational roles for the past eight years, but are about to tackle something completely new for the 2009 tarmac classic.

Watson was deputy clerk of course in 2008, while Lister has been the event’s Course Checker for eight years. They have also teamed up in the 00 safety car since 2001.

But in 2009 the pair will switch from being officials to competitors – the first time either of them has entered the event.

Back in February they contested Targa Wrest Point as a shakedown, and after a successful event in their 2004 VW Golf R32, they are targeting a strong finish in the Showroom Category.

Fifty-five year old Watson runs his own business, while Lister is a retired telecommunications specialist who now devotes his time to organising rallies, mainly in his native Victoria.

“We’d like to finish on the podium in the Showroom class, but we may have to rely on a high attrition rate to achieve that,” Watson admits. “It will be great to compete on the magnificent Tasmanian roads for once, rather than driving the 00 car, which Stuart and I have done for the past eight years.”

They will not use pacenotes on the event, electing to drive the event ‘blind’ off the road book, however given their knowledge of the stages, gained over the past eight years, you’d expect that they probably won’t be hindered by that choice.

“I decided I wanted to enjoy the drive, and not be bombarded with detail,” Watson adds. “I accept that this will slow us up a bit, but it will make our event more enjoyable.”

Having driven the course car for so many years, the pair are used to late nights and early rises during Targa. But this year, as competitors, they’re looking forward to a more “civalised” rally.

Their Showroom Golf R32 has competed in Targa in 2005 and 2007 with a different owner, before Watson purchased the car last year.

As the Showroom rules dictate, the car has very few modifications, aside from improved tyres, shock absorbers, a computer chip for the engine, and the required safety items. In fact it still has all the showroom items, such as leather seats, air conditioning and a 6-stack CD player – just the ticket for those long transport stages.

The Golf runs a normally aspirated 3.2 litre, V6 engine which produces 250 brake horsepower. The power is put to the ground via a six-speed manual gearbox, and four-wheel drive. It might not produce the power of the Lancer Evos that it will be up against, but it sounds great and adds a different flavour to the Showroom field.

With support from Ambulance Private (Watson’s business), D’Eco Design, Bocchino Motors and European Technology Bodyworks, Watson and Lister are determined to get to the finish of Targa Tasmania – something they have never failed to do in the past.

This time, however, they hope to be accepting silverware at the end of the six-day marathon.
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